The same themes are there, too—friendship, tension, boys, sex.
But the gals have matured, or at least changed with the times: They now actually have sex and use Facebook.
Pascal gave us Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, the pert, blond, miniskirted stars of Sweet Valley High, which burned up bestseller lists in the 1980s—the first teen fiction to appear on The New York Times paperback bestsellers list, alongside John Updike and Norman Mailer.
And for the vast canon of works devoted to the modern gal’s sexual escapades and shoe-shopping habits, including Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City and Cecily von Zigesar’s Gossip Girl, we have Francine Pascal to thank.
Although her name was featured on each cover as "creator," she hired a team of ghostwriters to turn her outlines into chapters, while she could work on more "serious" subject matter.
"There were times I didn't want to be defined by this," says the mother of three, who has written a number of adult novels, but never with the same commercial success.
HIV awareness and education should be universally integrated into all educational environments.
The prevalence of some health behaviors remains high and puts youth at higher risk for negative health outcomes.
(One editor says the arrival of her book's manuscript caused a flurry of "squealing women" in the office.) From her fifth-floor apartment in midtown Manhattan, she carefully pages through a stack of hand-typed manuscripts, and the book's original pitch letter, to Bantam Books, in 1982.And while Pascal is the first to admit that Jessica and Elizabeth were shallow—“Dan and I used to fall on the floor laughing about how silly they were," she says, referring to her friend and publisher at St.Martin's, Dan Weiss—they were powerful protagonists, too.The National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for all Americans to be educated about HIV.This includes knowing how HIV is transmitted and prevented, and knowing which behaviors place individuals at greatest risk for infection.There is also something called the Sweet Valley "Bible"—a thick guide to all things Jessica and Elizabeth, down to the color of Jess' legwarmers to just how conniving she could be (the answer: "very").Readers may be surprised to learn that Sweet Valley Confidential is the first Sweet Valley book Pascal has actually written cover to cover (though, she says with a laugh, "I wrote every single one of those f--king plotlines").Juno writer Diablo Cody is working on a feature film about the blue-eyed queen bees.And against the cultural currents, Pascal, now 73, is back with Sweet Valley Confidential, the first new book in seven years.In the beginning, that wasn't enough for many booksellers, who deemed Sweet Valley too "commercial" for their readers.The Times snubbed the series; librarians fought to keep their stacks free of the "skimpy-looking paperbacks," as one library journal put it.